Cutting wait time in LCMH emergency room

Cutting wait time in LCMH emergency room

When you are sick or injured the last thing you want to do when you get to an emergency room is wait for hours. Now, there is a new fast track system that is streamlining the ER wait time.

Inside the emergency room at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, an urgent care clinic of sorts is helping to ease the burden of a very busy caseload.

"We see everything from the very minor sprains, coughs and colds to the very serious medical patients or trauma patients," said emergency medicine physician, Dr. Jon Gray.

Dr. Gray has worked in this ER for 15 years and has seen the number of patients steadily climb to where it is now: an average of 100-130 people treated every day.

"These types of patients are often the ones who have minor medical illnesses, minor injuries that usually don't have access to healthcare," said Dr. Gray, "it may not be feasible to wait and see their primary care physician."

ER director Nancy Coffey said those minor care patients were having to wait - sometimes for a while.

"We were having a problem with the long waits, two hours at least to get to the back, because if you're sick, we take the sickest patients first," she said.

Once the patient is inside the emergency room and assigned to the fast track, the goal treatment time in and out is one hour, cutting the average emergency room wait time in half.

"We want to help get them in and out quicker," said Coffey, "so that they don't have to wait for a bed when it's being occupied by a sick patient."

Medical staff has been added to run the fast track and full services from lab work to x-ray and EKG are available in the space sectioned off inside the emergency room with four private treatment areas.

In the six weeks the fast track has been open, 700 minor care patients have come through.  "To not have to wait two to three hours to get into the back to be seen, it definitely has been a big help," said Coffey.

The fast track hours are 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. each day.

With the closure of Moss Regional's emergency services, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital has plans being drawn up for an emergency room expansion in 2014.

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